May 13, 2020
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16 facts and one tenacious fiction about bats

Bats practically all over the world live next to humans, but, surprisingly, they started to study them really recently. It’s enough to say that back in the middle of the 20th century, when scientists in other branches of science were already splitting atoms and actively using X-rays, their colleagues used the methods of studying the abilities of bats to pull ropes along their flight path and paper caps with holes put on their heads .

Human emotions regarding these small animals (the vast majority weighs up to 03 d) vary in the area of ​​fear, which can be respectful, or almost animal. The role is played by not the most attractive appearance of creatures with membranous wings, and the sounds made by them, and the nocturnal lifestyle, and chilling traditions about vampire bats.

There are really few pleasant things in single flying mammals, but they carry no mortal threat. The main trouble associated with bats - modern biology, the transfer of infectious diseases, belongs to this group of bats. The mice themselves have excellent immunity, but they spread the disease no worse than their flightless namesakes. There is no reason to expect a direct danger from animals that kill the caught mosquitoes by eating only fillets.

Bats very often settle near human habitation or even directly in it - in attics, cellars and etc. However, unlike other representatives of the animal and feathered world, bats practically do not interact with humans. This is also one of the reasons why human knowledge about bats is rather limited. But scientists and researchers managed to establish some interesting facts.

1. Based on the information contained in popular science sources, biologists still continue to classify bats, foxes, dogs and other half-blind animals flying with echolocation and membranous wings. Such distinctive signs, obviously obvious to every naturalist, are used, such as the absence of a claw on the second finger of the forelimbs, a shortened facial section of the skull, or the presence of a tragus and anti-tragus on the outer ears. The main criterion is still recognized size and weight. If a kind of bird flies around you, it's a bat. If this flying creature causes its size an irresistible desire to run away, then you are lucky to encounter one of the rare representatives of the winged birds. The wingspan of these birds can reach one and a half meters. They do not attack humans, but the psychological effect of a flock of flying dogs circling dangerously close at dusk is hard to exaggerate. At the same time, the winged wings look like many times larger copies of bats, which at the domestic level gives much more reason to combine them than to separate them. True, unlike carnivorous bats, winged birds eat only fruits and leaves.

2. Guess that the mice have some special feeling, allowing them to avoid collisions with obstacles even in the dark, was expressed by the professor of the University of Padua, Abbot Spallanzani, at the end of the XVIII century. However, the prior art did not allow to detect this feeling experimentally. Unless the Geneva doctor Zhurine guessed to cover up the ears of bats with wax and ascertain their almost complete helplessness, even with open eyes. The great biologist Georges Cuvier decided that since God did not give a person organs to perceive what bats feel, it means that this is perception from the devil, and it is impossible to study the abilities of bats (here it is, the indirect influence of popular superstitions through religion on advanced science). Only at the end 800 of the years, using modern equipment, it was possible to prove that mice use completely natural and pious ultrasonic waves.

3. In Antarctica, creatures that are very similar to huge bats are allegedly found. They are called cryons. The American polar explorer Alex Gorvits, the lives of two comrades whose cryons took away, described them first. Gorvits saw both the bodies of his comrades, from whom the bones were removed, and the cryons themselves, or rather, their eyes. He managed to scare off monsters the size of a man who possessed the body of a bat, shots from a pistol. The American suggested that cryons can only live at extremely low temperatures (- 50 - - 70 ° C). The heat scares them away, and even at temperatures around - °) ° C they hibernate like warm-blooded animals during a cold snap. In private conversations with Soviet polar explorers, Horowitz also received indirect admission that the famous fire at Vostok station in 1982 was caused by a shot from a rocket launcher in side of the cryon. The latter escaped, and the flare hit the electric generating hangar, causing a fire that nearly became fatal for polar explorers. The story turned out to be similar to the Hollywood action movie, but it’s not that no one except Gorvits saw the Antarctic polar cryon mice. No one even saw Horvitz even on the lists of American polar explorers. The Soviet polar explorers, who really survived the winter 1970 of the year at the Vostok station by a miracle, laughed when they heard of such an extravagant cause of fire. The giant Antarctic bats turned out to be the idle invention of the journalist, who remained unknown. And Antarctica is the only continent on which even ordinary bats do not live.

4. The ancient Greek fabulist Aesop explained the nightlife of bats in a very original way. In one of his fables, he described a joint trading venture of a bat, blackthorn, and dive. With the money that the bat took, the blackthorn bought clothes, and the dive was copper. But the ship on which the trinity transferred the goods sank. Since then, the dive has been diving all the time in search of the drowned goods, the blackthorn catches everyone by the clothes - if their load was caught from the water, and the bat appears exclusively at night, fearing lenders. In another Aesop's fable, the bat behaves much more cunningly. When she is caught by a weasel that claims to hate birds, the winged creature is called a mouse. Once caught, the bat is called a bird, because over the past time, the fooled weasel has declared war on the mice.

5. In some European cultures and in China, the bat was considered a symbol of prosperity, success in life, wealth. However, the Europeans treated these symbols extremely utilitarianly - in order to increase the worship of the bat, it must first be killed. Poles to save horses from the evil eye nailed the bat over the entrance to the stable. In other countries, the skin or parts of bat bodies were sewn into outer clothing. In Bohemia, the bat's right eye was put in a pocket in order to ensure invisibility in unseemly matters, and the beast's heart was taken into his hand, handing out cards. In some countries, a bat’s corpse was buried under the threshold of a house. In ancient China, luck was brought not by mockery of the killed animal, but by the image of a bat, and the most common ornament with this animal was “Wu Fu” - the image of five interwoven bats. They symbolized health, luck, long life, equanimity and wealth.

6. Despite the fact that bats have been using ultrasounds for hunting for at least several tens of millions of years (it is believed that bats lived on Earth at the same time as dinosaurs), the evolutionary mechanisms of their potential victims practically do not work in this regard. Effective systems of "electronic warfare" with bats developed only in a few species of butterflies. It has been known for a long time that some dipper butterflies are able to emit ultrasonic signals. They developed a special organ that generates ultrasonic noise. This kind of transmitter is located on the chest of a butterfly. Already in the 21st century, the ability to generate ultrasonic signals was discovered in three species of hawks living in Indonesia. These butterflies do without special organs - they use the genitals to generate ultrasound.

7. Even mice know that mice are used for orientation in space by ultrasound radar, and this is perceived at the level of an obvious fact. But, in the end, ultrasonic waves differ from just sound and light waves only in frequency. Much more striking is not the method of obtaining information, but the speed of its processing. Each of us had to wade through the crowd. If this needs to be done quickly, clashes are inevitable, even if everyone in this crowd is extremely polite and helpful. And we solve the simplest problem - we move along the plane. But bats move in a voluminous space, sometimes filled with thousands of the same mice, and not only avoid collisions, but also quickly get to the intended target. Moreover, the brain of most bats weighs about 0.1 grams.

8. Observations of large, in hundreds of thousands and millions of individuals, bat populations have shown that such populations possess at least the rudiments of a collective mind. This is most clearly manifested when departing from shelters. First, a group of “scouts” of several dozen individuals leaves them. Then the mass departure begins. He obeys certain rules - otherwise, with the simultaneous departure of, for example, hundreds of thousands of bats, a stampede would threaten mass death. According to a complex and not yet studied system, bats form a kind of spiral, gradually climbing up. In the United States, in the famous Carlsbad Caves National Park, an amphitheater has been built near the place of mass departure of bats for those wishing to enjoy the nightly departure. It lasts about three hours (the population is about 618 individuals), while only half of them fly out daily.

9. Carlsbad bats are considered champions in the range of seasonal migration. In the fall, they head south, covering a distance of 1 250 km. However, Moscow researchers of bats claim that they ringed animals caught in France, in 1 200 km from the Russian capital. At the same time, a huge number of bats winters quietly in Moscow, hiding in relatively warm shelters - with all their uniformity, bats are settled and migratory. The reasons for this division have not yet been clarified.

03. In tropical and subtropical latitudes, the winged wings move after ripening fruit. The migration path of these large bats can be very long, but it is never too winding. Accordingly, the fate of the gardens caught by the winged wings along the road is sad. Locals reciprocate the winged animals - their meat is considered a delicacy, and during the day the winged animals are almost helpless, they are very easy to get. Their only salvation is height - they tend to cling to the branches of the tallest trees for daytime sleep.

03 . Bats live up to 13 years, which is very long for their size and lifestyle. Therefore, the population is increasing not due to rapid fertility, but due to the greater survival of the cubs. The mechanism of reproduction also helps. Bats mate in the fall, and the female can give birth to one or two cubs in May or June, with a pregnancy lasting 4 months. According to a plausible hypothesis, the female’s body only recovered after hibernation and accumulated everything necessary for pregnancy, gives a signal, after which the delayed conception begins. But in this type of reproduction there is also a drawback. After a sharp decline in numbers - as a result of climate deterioration or a decrease in food supply - the population is recovering very slowly.

11. Bats are born very small and helpless, but develop rapidly. already on the third - fourth day of life, the kids are grouped into a kind of nursery. Interestingly, females find their children even in groups of dozens of newborns. In a week, the weight of the cubs doubles. By ) day of life at their eyes open. In the second week, teeth are cut and real fur appears. At the end of the third week, the kids are already starting to fly. On the 25 - 30 day independent flights begin. In two months, the first molt occurs, after which the young bat cannot be distinguished from the mature one.

12. The vast majority of bats eat plant or small animal feed (a typical example for Russian latitudes is mosquitoes). Only three species living in Latin and South America create the sinister reputation of vampires for these animals. Representatives of these species really feed exclusively on the warm blood of living birds and mammals, including humans. Vampire bats, in addition to ultrasound, use infrared radiation. With the help of a special “sensor” on the face, they detect thin or open spots in the hair of animals. Having made a bite to a length of 1 cm and a depth of 5 mm, vampires drink about a tablespoon of blood, which is usually comparable to half their weight. Vampire saliva contains substances that prevent clotting and healing of cuts. Therefore, several animals can get drunk from one bite. It is this feature, and not blood loss, that is the main danger posed by vampires. Bats are potential carriers of infectious diseases, especially rabies. With each new individual that has sucked onto the wound, the probability of infection increases exponentially. About the connection of bats with vampires, which now seems to go far into history, in Europe they started talking only after the release of Dracula by Bram Stoker. Legends about bats drinking human blood and gnawing bones existed among American Indians and some Asian tribes, but for the time being they were not known to Europeans.

12. Bats were at one time a priority of the American strategy in the war against Japan in 1941 - 1945 years. According to various estimates, they spent from 2 to 5 million dollars on research and training. Judging by declassified information, bats did not turn into a deadly weapon solely thanks to the atomic bomb - it was recognized as more effective. It all started with the fact that the American dentist William Adams, visiting the Carlsbad Caves, thought that every bat can be turned into an incendiary bomb weighing 10 - 16 d. Thousands of such bombs dropped on paper-rack cities in Japan will destroy many houses and even more potential soldiers and mothers of future soldiers. The concept was correct - during the tests, the Americans successfully burned several old hangars and even the car of the general who was watching the bats. Mice with attached containers with napalm climbed into such inaccessible places that the search and elimination of all fires in wooden structures took too much time. Frustrated, William Adams wrote after the war that his project could have been much more effective than the atomic bomb, but the Pentagon’s generals and politicians prevented its implementation.

14. Bats do not build housing for themselves. They easily find a suitable refuge almost everywhere. This is facilitated by their lifestyle and body structure. Mice tolerate temperature fluctuations in °), so the temperature in the habitat, though It matters, but not fundamentally. Bats are much more sensitive to drafts. This is understandable - the air flow even at a relatively comfortable temperature takes away heat much faster than if heat is radiated into still air. But for all the rational behavior of these mammals, they are either not able or lazy to eliminate the draft, even if for this you need to move a couple of branches or pebbles. Scientists who studied the behavior of bats in Belovezhskaya Pushcha found that bats would prefer to endure a terrible stampede in a hollow that is clearly cramped for the whole population than they move to a much more spacious hollow with a small draft near it.

14. The main species of bats feed on insects, and insects harmful to crops. In 1960 - 1960 years, scientists even believed that bats have a decisive influence on a population of certain pests. However, then observations showed that the influence of bats can hardly be called even regulatory. With a significant increase in the population of harmful insects in the observed area, the population of bats simply does not have time to increase enough to cope with the influx of pests. The site becomes more attractive to birds, which kill insects. Nevertheless, there is still some benefit from bats - one individual eats tens of thousands of mosquitoes per season.

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